July is national picnic month, and with 4th of July weekend right around the corner, there is no better time to host a patriotic picnic. Nancy Soriano, editor-in-chief of Country Living magazine, stopped by "Good Morning America" today to offer some tips on how to have an old-fashioned picnic that is easy, affordable and good for the environment.
To plan the perfect patriotic picnic, check out our list of Soriano's tips and suggestions.
Environmentally-Friendly Table Setting
Why not throw a little "green" in with your red, white and blue color palette. Consider using environmentally-friendly alternatives to the standard disposable picnic-ware. These items can be reused, recycled, or even things you grab from home.
Do you have any extra red or white holiday wrapping paper lying around? Wrapping paper makes a great colorful and inexpensive table cloth. It also gives you reason to use that old gift wrap you've been saving since December.
Your tableware can be cheap, chic and easy on the environment. Preserve Tableware is made from recycled plastic, and unlike other plastic utensils, can go in the dishwasher. It's just a little more expensive than normal plastic-ware, but is very environmental-friendly, reusable and recyclable. You can find Preserve Tableware at Whole Foods.
Setting the table for six? It's fun to mismatch a little. Nancy suggests using different colors that still all go together. For another idea and a clever way to separate flatware, try putting each person's utensils in different envelopes. For added decoration, you can use rubber stamps to put people's names on the outside of the envelope. This makes it easy for guests to grab cutlery before sitting down to eat.
For a "green" flatware fix -- don't toss your bottle carrier; instead, reuse it as a caddy for napkins and flatware. You can use the different compartments to hold items, like condiments, and if you're looking for patriotic colors, a six-pack carrier of Coke comes in red and white.
Other On-the-Table Tips
Use leak-resistant paper bowls to hold things, like salsa and dips. Buy them in plaids or a bandana pattern to add both color and practicality to your table.
Cake can serve double duty as a centerpiece and a dessert. For a cake with a hint of patriotism, it's easy to buy a basic white cake at your local market and decorate it in red and blue. Fresh colorful berries or vintage flags add just the right amount of color.
Flowers can also work as a great centerpiece. For an easy, affordable option and a fun project, spray paint empty cans in a pale blue color, and then fill them with red flowers.
Candles add great ambience. For a simple, pretty and safe way to use them outdoors, put your candles in mason jars filled with sand. Solar nylon lanterns are also a "green" way to light up the outdoors. Charge the lanterns outside in the sun all day and they will glow up to six hours at night. To add a little light to your evening picnic, hang the lanterns on the corners of the table.
A Patriotic Touch
This is perfect for your 4th of July picnic. Copy the Constitution, roll it up and secure it with a band. Then pass it out to guests for a party favor they surely won't forget.
A delightful and patriotic way to label your sandwiches is by wrapping them in colorful bandanas and attaching small American flag cupcake toppers. On the flags you can write the sandwich types. This takes care of sandwich confusion and adds patriotic flare.
For the perfect way to end the day, Nancy recommends individual Pop champagne that comes in bottles with flag motifs. Serve them on a tray and show off the bottles.
Try using a Radio Flyer wagon as the perfect red ice chest.
For a little after-dinner reading and song-singing, every family should have the classics "Patriot's Handbook" by Caroline Kennedy, and "Songbook" by Johnny Cash. These are two staples that should be on every family's bookshelf.
Where to Find Items
Recycline's Preserve tableware, $5 and up, recycline.com
Pier 1's reusable melamine plates, $2 each; Pier 1 stores nationwide
Soji Solar Lanterns, $20 each; 866-425-5767
Pommery Pop America Champagne, $15 each, sherry-lehmann.com
L.L. Bean Go Anywhere Flexible Basin, $14.50, llbean.com
Parchment Declaration of Independence, $17.50; patriotshop.us
Ball Jars, freshpreserving.com
Radio Flyer Original Little Red Wagon, toysrus.com
Ana Design Candles, 14" striped taper, anadesigncorp.com for store information
West Elm Paisley Outdoor Mat, 4' x 6,' $39, in Yves blue/white, westelm.com
Robin Reed Americana party crackers, sold locally at gift shops, party stores, hardware stores, florists, and nurseries
Oriental Trading Classic Bandana, $10/dozen, orientalTrading.com